Recollections of a remarkable childhood


Zoologist Dr Suzanne L. Ullmann, who was born of Jewish parents in Budapest in 1935, lectured for many years at the University of Glasgow. She died in April last year and left behind this remarkable account of surviving Nazi occupation. Her father, a jeweller, had gone to London in the hope of establishing a business and her mother, who went to visit him, was unable to get back to Hungary when war broke out. Suzanne and her twin brothers were in Budapest with their grandmothers.

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Great lives


Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton was born in France during WWI in the Languedoc region near the Spanish border on 31 January 1915.  Both his parents were artists, his father from New Zealand, his mother from New York.  He was schooled partly in France and partly in America.  Both parents died before he was 10.  A friend of his father paid for him to go to boarding school in England and thence to Cambridge University where he adopted a bohemian lifestyle at the expense of his studies.  After a year he was advised to go to his grandparents in New York where he attended Columbia University.  Here he met writers who were interested in the spiritual and became familiar with the work of Catherine de Hueck Docherty in Harlem.  He was baptised and, having been turned down by the Franciscans, at the age of 27 he joined the Trappists in that part of Kentucky known for its whisky, horse racing and Catholics, taking the monastic name Louis.  Exactly 27 years later he died at a monastic conference in Bangkok, electrocuted by a faulty fan. Continue reading

Great lives


Mary Slessor

‘a whirlwind, an earthquake, a fire, and a still small voice, all in one.’[1]

For years I have had a special interest in Mary Slessor, because my wife Mary grew up with a family belief that her grandfather, born in Dundee in 1848, had been at school with Mary Slessor.  He went out to India’s jute trade with a Dundee weaving firm. Continue reading

Feb/Mar 2020

In June 2019 Open House held a conference exploring possible new directions for the Catholic Church in Scotland. See conference papers.

Open House also held a conference on the role of lay people in the governance of the Catholic Church in November 2013. See conference papers.